Landon Busch puts the ball in play for the Bandits during their 7-3 elimination-game win over West Fargo (N.D.) on Friday at the American Legion Central Plains Regional Tournament at Astoria Field in Dickinson, N.D.
/ Skyler Cary gets one of his two base hits as he drove in two runs. He also pitched a scoreless ninth inning of relief. Photos by Royal McGregor/The Dickinson Press
• American Legion Central Plains Regional Tournament
DICKINSON, N.D. – Matt Thomas shook off a somewhat rocky start on the mound and the Bandits scored six runs in the second during a 7-3 victory over West Fargo in an elimination game of the American Legion Central Plains Regional at Astoria Field-Southside Ballpark.
“It was a good effort by all of our guys,” said Brookings head coach Rob Hirrschoff. “One thing we mentioned after the game (Thursday), where we looked a little flat and still a little bit tired, was no matter what happens tomorrow, let’s go out and try to play the type of baseball we’ve played all year long. You know, as far as competing hard and being into the game – all 12 guys.
“And that’s what we saw today. Regardless of the outcome, we just wanted to play every game the rest of the way out exactly like we have all year. That’s the way we played today, so it was good to see.”
Brookings took advantage of control issues by North Dakota starter Camran Bonnema in the big second.
Konner Beste and Thomas McMacken drew walks, and Corey Roach was hit by a pitch to load the bases. That trend continued when Austin Koenig and Trevor Puetz were hit by pitches, forcing in Konner Beste and McMacken to tie the score at 2-all.
Riley Bullington followed with an RBI groundout, plating Roach; and Cary notched a run-scoring single that made it 4-2.
Thomas reached via a fielder’s choice and was credited with an RBI when Puetz scored. After an error and another walk loaded the bases again, West Fargo brought in pitcher Will Barker.
McMacken tallied an RBI walk to score Thomas and make it 6-2. Barker got a groundball out after that to finally get West Fargo out of the inning.
Post 74 pushed the margin to 7-2 in the third when Puetz singled with one out, moved to second on Bullington’s groundout, took third on Cary’s single and scored on Thomas’ single.
Thomas overcame some control problems of his own in the opening inning. He hit two of the first three batters he faced. Following a strikeout, he walked a batter to load the bases.
Brock Evenson then drew a walk, forcing in Kory Wolden. Andy Young scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0, before Thomas struck out Zach Steckler to end the inning.
In the fourth, West Fargo took advantage of two walks and two hit batsmen with two outs to pull within 7-3. Tucker Bucholz was hit by pitch, forcing in Wolden.
Thomas worked around 11 free passes, including five walks, in the win. He struck out nine while allowing three runs on four hits in eight innings.
“Matt did a good job,” Hirrschoff said. “I think early on he gave them a couple of gift runs, which isn’t typical of Matt. I don’t think he had his best stuff today but he definitely had his best competitiveness. He really did a good job of battling and settled in and just really kept grinding it out.
“He didn’t have his best fastball command but had really good command of both of his off-speed pitches – slider and changeup. He was able to keep them off balance and do a good job.
“As I’ve probably said a couple handful of times this year, that’s typical Matt Thomas effort. Even when he didn’t have his best stuff, he’s going to go out there and compete and be a bulldog for us.”
Cary, Landon Busch and Puetz each finished with two hits for the Bandits. Cary pitched a hitless ninth to close out the game.
Bonnema gave up six runs – five earned – on one hit with seven free passes (four walks) and one strikeout in 1 2/3 innings.
After playing the morning game the last two days, Brookings Post 74 faces the winner of the Eden Prairie, Minn./Omaha, Neb., game today at 5 p.m. CDT.
Notes: After going 1-for-4 at the plate and catching in the Bandits’ opener Thursday, Kelby Beste did not start Friday. He pinch hit in the eighth – and was hit by a pitch – and played first base in the ninth. … The game was a matchup of the South Dakota and North Dakota state champions.
BROOKINGS 7, WEST FARGO, N.D. 3
West Fargo 200 100 000 – 3 4 2
Brookings 061 000 00x – 7 8 0
Camran Bonnema, Willy Barker (2), Matt Barclay (8) and Tucker Bucholz; Matt Thomas, Skyler Cary (9) and Austin Koenig. W – Thomas. L – Bonnema.
• Dickinson 3, West Des Moines 1
By: Royal McGregor
The Dickinson Press
Dickinson didn’t want to recreate its one-hit, 10-run loss experience from Thursday night.
In fact, the American Legion baseball team didn’t want to stop playing at all.
Dickinson defeated West Des Moines (Iowa) 3-1 on Friday afternoon in an elimination game at the Central Plains Regional Tournament on Astoria Field at Southside Ballpark.
Sean Kelly grabbed the win, throwing five innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out two. Aaron Berg pitched the final four innings and got Dickinson out of a first-and-second jam in the sixth.
Dylan Skabo led the Roughriders’ offense, going 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored. Cole Anderson had a hit and a run, while Mason Schiff had a RBI. Taylor Kraenzel and Luke Herauf each supplied hits.
Brett Braunagel was a terror on the base paths, collecting a stolen base and three errors on one play to score all the way from first base in the second inning.
Grant Otte was charged with the loss after allowing two runs in five innings. Jake Reinhardt threw a perfect ninth inning, while striking out two of the three batters he faced.
Otte had the lone RBI in the game for West Des Moines in the second inning. Anthony Denkinger came into score on the play.
Dickinson faces Papillion (Neb.) Pinnacle Bank at 2 p.m. CDT today.
Dickinson 3, West Des Moines 1
Dickinson 010 100 010 – 3 6 1
West Des Moines 010 000 000 – 1 6 4
Sean Kelly, Aaron Berg (6) and Brady Dutchak. Joe Erickson, Grant Otte (4), Jake Reinhardt (9) and Jake DeBondt, Anthony Bianchi. W – Kelly. L – Otte.
• Edina 11, Papillion 6
By: Dustin Monke
The Dickinson Press
Edina (Minn.) had to win its first game of the Central Plains Regional American Legion baseball tournament on a ninth-inning RBI single.
So it felt good giving itself a huge cushion in the early innings of a second-round game against Papillion (Neb.) Pinnacle Bank – even if it eventually had to work for a victory.
Edina scored seven runs in the first two innings, got behind starting pitcher Mitch Larson and held off a late Papillion rally for an 11-6 victory on Friday night on Astoria Field at Southside Ballpark.
Hopfner was 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored. He was one of three Edina players who had multiple-RBI games and gave Edina a 5-0 lead in the second inning with a two-run double.
Stephen Kalina was 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs and Nick Denn was 1-for-3 with two RBI and a run.
Papillion couldn’t find a groove early, whether it was in the field or on the mound.
Starter Cole Gruber was credited with just two earned runs of the six Edina scored while he was in the game. In all, Edina had six earned runs.
Along with Edina’s solid placement hitting, walks, errors and hit batters put Papillion in a hole.
Edina led 9-0 before Papillion was able to scrape together some hits.
Eventually, Papillion was able to get things put together.
Gruber and Jake Placzek each drove in a pair of runs.
After Larson walked in a run and allowed another to score on a hit by pitch, Gruber’s two-run double to left-center field cut Edina’s lead to 10-5.
Reliever Geoff Fisher walked Josh Kramer, J.J. Benes came up with the bases loaded and the chance to make it a one-run game. Benes, who was 3-for-5, struck out and Landen Weisbeck popped out to end the threat.
Papillion left 15 runners on base and left the bases loaded in the first, sixth and eighth innings.
Edina put itself into a quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Eden Prairie and Omaha (Neb.) PI Midwest.
Papillion, meanwhile, faces elimination against a team that provided the biggest surprise of the tournament Friday – the hometown Dickinson Roughriders, who upset Iowa state champion West Des Moines 3-1. They play at 2 p.m. CDT today.
Edina 11, Papillion 6
Papillion 000 001 041 – 6 11 2
Edina 250 021 01x – 11 10 1
Cole Gruber, Aaron O’Dowd (2), Cole Baker (5), Taylor Bruch (6), Geoffrey Birkemeier (7), Justin Gassert (8). Mitch Larson, Geoff Fisher (8) and Michael Grove. W – Larson. L – Gruber.